Happy (Ash) Wednesday! We hope all who are observing have a blessed Lent.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
The International Energy Agency announced yesterday its member countries—the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe—agreed to release a combined 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves to “send a unified and strong message” that there will be “no shortfall in supplies” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With the price of oil at an eight-year high, White House National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti on Tuesday encouraged U.S. oil and gas companies to increase production: “Prices are quite high, the price signal is strong. If folks want to produce more, they can and they should.”
The governments of Poland, Bulgaria, and Slovakia contradicted promises made by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel over the weekend, making clear they will not be donating fighter jets to the Ukrainian war effort. It’s unclear whether Borrel spoke out of turn before an agreement was finalized, or the countries backtracked out of fears of escalating the situation with Russia further. The European Union reportedly agreed to cut seven Russian banks from the SWIFT financial-messaging system, exempting two of its largest, Sberbank and Gazprombank.
U.S. tech giants announced a series of additional moves on Tuesday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Google announced YouTube would join Meta and TikTok in blocking Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik in Europe, and Meta said it was tweaking its algorithms to stop recommending the two outlets’ content worldwide. Instagram rolled out encrypted direct messaging for users in Ukraine and Russia. Apple announced it was pausing product sales and limiting functionality of Apple Pay in Russia, and removing RT and Sputnik apps from its App Store outside of Russia.